Review: 'Lair' Is Lame, 'Warhawk' Wonderful

It's been a long year for PlayStation 3 owners with very little in the way of new, exclusive content. As good as they are, "MotorStorm" and "Resistance: Fall of Man" are wearing thin for me.

Finally, two new PS3 exclusives are available: "Warhawk" and "Lair."

Being an exclusive game doesn't guarantee greatness. Five minutes with "Lair" makes that painfully clear.

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"Lair" (Rated T, $59.99) kicks off well enough, with a gorgeous animated sequence involving warriors on fire-breathing dragons.

The aerial spectacle is tremendous, the cinematic effect stirring.

So how can the actual game — a title with battle-tested, fire-breathing dragons, mind you — be so utterly terrible?

It's a classic case of a game that looks phenomenal but plays horribly. The controls quickly kill any sense of fun.

Flying dragons around the war-torn landscape is maddeningly tough in "Lair." Too tough.

That's because you have no choice but to move the controller in the direction you're trying to go. The PS3's controller has always had a motion-sensing capability, but it's very imprecise when you're trying to guide a dragon through a narrow canyon.

To do a quick 180, you can flick the controller up — but, often, my flicks didn't do anything or sent me in the wrong direction.

If only "Lair" would let me use the controller's traditional joysticks and buttons for movement.

"Lair" just isn't worth the effort.

One star out of four.

At least "Warhawk" delivers what it advertises: a quick, responsive multiplayer combat game. Nothing more, nothing less.

The game feels a bit generic compared to more established online shooting franchises like "Unreal Tournament," but there's plenty to like about "Warhawk." Namely, big, sprawling online matches against up to 31 other real players.

There are the usual online modes like Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag, which span a diverse array of maps. There are plenty of weapons like machine guns and grenades, plus you can drive around tanks and jeeps, or control turrets to defend your base.

Some weapons seem overpowered, namely the flame thrower, which can somehow mow down armored tanks with relative ease.

But the game's biggest rush comes from piloting the warhawk fighters. They're able to transform from hovercraft to fighter jets and back again.

They pack an arsenal of weapons that includes missiles and mines. They're extremely maneuverable, too, able to perform all sorts of aerial tricks such as loops and spinning turns.

There are two ways to buy "Warhawk," which is rated T. You can download it directly from Sony and pay $39.99, or buy a boxed copy that includes a wireless headset for $20 more.

That way, you can talk trash right back to the online strangers who will taunt you after they've blasted you from the sky.

"Warhawk" is the sort of game the PS3 desperately needed. It's an approachable title that delivers all the online mayhem you can handle.

Three-and-a-half stars.